Tree of a younger brother: Richard Huntington Armer & Mary Lawrence

Richard Huntington Armer was a younger brother of my great-great-grandfather, his middle name was from his mother (my 3x great grandmother), who was born Ann Huntington. The photo at the top of this post shows Richard’s descendants at the Armer Reunion in September 2018.

Richard was baptised at St Michael’s in Cockerham 27th July 1823. This birth record is from the Parish Registers of Lancashire and these are searchable on-line for free. They record baptisms, marriages and burials, sometimes with birth and death dates too. To look at census details, I pay an annual subscription the The Genealogist. The Censuses of 1841 to 1911 give a list of family members with ages, relationship to head of household and occupation.

The earliest census on which I could find Richard is from 1851. He’s aged 28, and is working as a farm servant to the Chew family at Throstle Nest, Lower Thurnham. The farm is still there today!

RHA 1851

Richard married Mary Newsham in February 1852 at St Michael’s, Cockerham:

RHA Marriage 1

Shockingly, Mary died from “Puerperal mania” of three weeks duration in August that year, aged just 22.

RHA Mary N death puerperal

The baby, Robert Newsham Armer, was baptised on August 12th (the same day Mary was buried) – but died on September 5th.

In 1860 Richard married again and this time the story is happier (eventually). His wife was Mary Lawrence:


In the 1861 Census the couple are living at High Thurnham with Mary’s father and illegitimate daughter Jane, plus their own baby of 3 months, Nancy. Richard and his father-in-law Robert Lawrence were both agricultural labourers.

RHA 1861

Nancy died aged just 8 and is buried with her parents at Christ Church in Glasson Dock (headstone shown at top of this post). Another baby, William (1863), died just 30 minutes old.

The photo below is thought to be of Mary Armer (née Lawrence) around 1870, taken at a studio in Darwen Street, Blackburn. It belongs to David Armer, one of Richard and Mary’s great-grandchildren who I met at the Reunion.

1870 lady

Thought to be Mary Armer around 1870. Photo courtesy of David Armer, Richard and Mary’s great-grandson

In 1871, Richard and Mary have two children – Richard age 4 and Margaret/Mary (in later censuses) age 1. In the 1881 Census, four more children have arrived:

Richard, born 1866 (died in 1913 at Weston-Super-Mare where he worked as a gardener)
Margaret/Mary Ann, born 1869 (I thought Mary Ann was unmarried at time of her     mother’s death in 1902, but in fact, she married her cousin Thomas Armer, so her name     did not change)
Robert, born 1871
William, born 1874, married Mary Elizabeth Shaw
John, born 1876
Thomas Edward, born 1878, married Margaret; had 3 children Jane, Agnes & Tom

In 1881 through to 1901 the family lived at Rotten Row, Thurnham. I was thrilled when a great-granddaughter of Richard Huntington Armer got in touch via the blog (she is Josephine on the tree at the end of this post). She told me that Richard Huntington Armer was a groundsman at the Catholic Church at Thurnham, even though he wasn’t a Catholic himself, and it seems that the churchyard was immaculately kept. This would fit with his son William becoming a Catholic in order to marry Mary Elizabeth Shaw.  Josie also told me that Rotten Row is now St Michael’s Terrace, and sent a link to a photo of the shop, run by her grand-parents William Armer and Mary Elizabeth Shaw:

St Michael Terrace

Cottages at the top of Thurnham Hill, once known as ‘Rotton Row’. The end cottage was demolished early in 1900s, the rest now comprise St. Michael’s Terrace. Both RHA and his 2nd wife Mary Lawrence died here. Image from Lancashire County Council’s Red Rose Collections

Josie and I were wondering why the street was called “Rotten Row” and Josie came across this explanation: the name perhaps derives from ‘RHODDEN’ Celtic for wheels and ‘RUH’ , old-English for rough, i.e. a stoney ford over beck, rough on wheels. There was an old lane somewhere at the back of Rotten Row.

Wm Armer ME Shaw marriage 1900

Josie said her grandfather would keep customers talking in the shop so that they’d buy more! She also told me he was head gardener at Ashton Hall, just a mile and a half north of Thurnham on the A588 into Lancaster, now owned by Lancaster Golf Club.

In the 1901 Census there are two Armer households on Rotten Row: Richard age 77, a general labourer, his wife Mary age 60, their son Thomas Edward age 22 and Mary’s father Robert Lawrence a retired ship’s carpenter. Next door is Richard and Mary’s son William with his wife Mary Elizabeth Armer (née Shaw; marriage certificate above) and their 4 month old son John Shaw Armer.

RHA 1901

1901 Census: newly-weds William and Mary Elizabeth Armer and 4 month old son John Shaw Armer living next door to William’s father Richard Huntington Armer, his wife Mary, their youngest child Thomas Edward and Mary’s father Robert Lawrence, a retired ship’s carpenter

In 1911 William and Mary Elizabeth are living with Mary’s Elizabeth’s father John Shaw at Higher Thurnham. Their son John Shaw Armer is now John S Armer, age 10, and they have four more boys: William, Richard, Thomas and Joseph.

William born 1874 in 1911

1911 Census: William and Mary Elizabeth Armer living at Upper Thurnham with Mary Elizabeth’s widowed father John Shaw. The couple had five boys under 10 and William was a ‘carter at corn mill’

Josie told me that their second son, William, died as a result of head injuries from a fall at Nicholson’s shipyard in Glasson Dock, where he worked as a carpenter’s apprentice.

William Armer age 16 death in 1918

Death of William Armer, the young apprentice who would have been Josie’s uncle. Reported in the Lancaster Guardian, 12 January 1918

Josie showed me a photo of William Armer (father of the William above who died age 16), believed to have been taken around 1940, when he would have been 66.

William born 1874 photo from Josie

Josie’s grandfather William Armer around 1940. William was a cousin of my great-grandfather, Richard Armer (1845–1916). The common ancestor of Josie and myself is William Armer who married Ann Huntington in 1813

Returning to Richard Huntington Armer and his wife Mary Lawrence, Mary died in 1903 aged 63 from bronchopneumonia and albuminuria with her daughter Mary Ann Armer present at the death (therefore unmarried). Richard died in 1910 from ‘senile decay’ aged 87, his son TE (Thomas Edward) Armer present at the death.

RHA and Mary death certs

We found the headstone at Christ Church, Glasson in 2014.

RHA headstone

The lettering reads:

In loving memory of Richard Huntington Armer of Thurnham
who died October 5th 1910 aged 87 years
Also of Mary his wife who died July 24th 1902 aged 63 years
Also of Nancy their daughter who died September 13th 1869 aged 8 years
Also of Richard their son who died at Weston super Mare Nov 16th 1913 aged 47 years

Thomas Edward, his wife Margaret and daughters Jane and Agnes (who died in 1988) are buried near-by. A son, Tom, is named on Thomas Edward’s death certificate from 1958. I stumbled across the account of Tom’s wedding to Elsie Clement in a Morecambe Guardian from June 1940.

Armer Clement marriage 1940

A quick search showed that the couple had two sons, Brian and David. I met David at the 2018 Reunion and he very kindly lent me a binder full of family mementos that have helped to fill in so many of the gaps in my framework … including his parents’ wedding photo from 1940.

Tom and elsie

Left to right: Tom Armer, Elsie Armer (née Clement), Jennie Clement and James Armer on Tom and Elsie’s wedding day, June 1940. Photo courtesy of their son David Armer

David’s folder contains a lot of information about his grandfather Thomas Edward’s service in World War I, including several embroidered postcards he sent to family members. This forms the bulk of the post Armers in World War I.

Much of the detail in this tree has been given by Richard Huntington Armer’s great-granddaughter Josie, who I’ve put on the tree. She pointed me to the Huntington website, which has also helped enormously! And it was nice to meet David and other members of Josie’s family – who comprised ‘Yellow Team’ at the Reunion in 2018 (photo at the top of this post).

RHA tree updated Oct 2018





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